Listen to the Voices

On Twitter, this question caught my attention in a big way.

It summed up how I felt, too. What I expected to feel embarrassing and cringy turned out to be … kind of relaxing. Fun. And so, so many errors that I’d skimmed past without a second thought came jumping up out of the page like snakes.

“I’d very much like to,” she said.

Ok. No, she very much didn’t. No one very much does. It’s very much … much.

A more practiced eye might have felt that while typing, but I needed to hear her say it to recognize that it didn’t fit with the voice of the character. If I hadn’t, it probably would have sailed peacefully through to the last edit.

If you’re like me, you’re somewhere on the low end of confidence when it comes to sharing your work. (That’s why I like writing this blog – facing mah fears now might make it easier to stop futzing with it when it’s “done” later.) Reading out loud to another person and doing all of those voices? Terrifying.

So that’s why I needed to do it. I roped my poor husband in and read through the first few chapters worth of draft. My anxiety was in overdrive as I attacked every word. Did it have the right weight? Did it sound true to the character’s voice? Did it fit into the phrase correctly?

After I was finished, I took a deep breath and sat back, exhausted. Then the other side of my brain kicked in. While I was writing, I’d been focused on hitting the plot beats. Getting everyone on their marks. Setting the stage. I thought I’d been writing, but really I’d been arranging. The verbal read let me get out of the clouds, down into the set, and forced me to take a good look at the nails in the stage floor.

And I’m glad, because if I’d let actors onto that set I would have sent them all to the ER. Nails were sticking out everywhere. Odd phrases. Inconsistent speech patterns. Nothing individually wrong, but when they were all put together they created a feeling of uncomfortably off.

So I’m a big advocate of listening to the voices of your imaginary people. For me, it feels almost crazy not to.

What do you think?